Sara Mainville


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Sara Mainville is a Partner at OKT.

Sara works with First Nations as legal counsel, strategic advisor and negotiator.

Ms. Mainville brings a diversity of experience as a lawyer for First Nation governments and political advisor to Indigenous political organizations and leadership. Sara’s strength is engaging provincial and Federal governments in bilateral/trilateral negotiations around difficult issues.

Sara Mainville has a Bachelor of Management from the University of Lethbridge and a LL.B. from Queen’s University and Sara chose to article at Ecojustice Canada.  In addition to her legal practice, Sara has earned a LL.M from the University of Toronto and was awarded the June Callwood bursary for graduate studies in 2006-2007. Sara Mainville’s thesis, “An Anishinaabe Perspective of Treaty #3” was the beginning of a lifetime of study by her regarding Treaty #3 and Indigenous jurisdiction’s important place in reconciling Indigenous sovereignty in Canada. 

Throughout her legal career, Sara has been committed to give back to her community of Couchiching First Nation. Sara has represented Couchiching as a lawyer, helped community members with sentencing submissions, and was elected a Councillor in First Nation government. In 2014, Sara was elected Chief of Couchiching First Nation. During that term she ensured that the First Nation had strong policy going forward, a good social media presence to engage the many off-reserve members in community affairs and she started the Wasaw group of companies. Sara was also very active as a political leader in the Grand Council Treaty #3 and Chiefs of Ontario committees.

Sara Mainville is very proud of her participation in the negotiations that led to the creation of the First Nation Sovereign Wealth LP (FNSWLP), a partnership of 129 First Nations in Ontario.  Directed by a Chiefs’ Committee on Energy, Sara was active in the negotiations that resulted in the commercial transaction between the Province of Ontario and the FNSWLP of 14 million Hydro One shares and $29 million in seed capital to facilitate long-term wealth creation for the partnering First Nations.  The lengthy discussions to transaction closing were completed between October, 2015 to the final days of December, 2017.

In 2015, Sara was named to the Multi-Interest Advisory Committee for the Federal EA Review process by the Assembly of First Nations. In 2018, Sara will be featured as the expert in APTN’s episode 10 on “Justice”.  Sara Mainville is well regarded by governments and First Nation leaders as a strategic thinker and negotiator.


  • “The History of Indigenous Treaties and Canada’s Long Creation Story.” Centre for International Governance Innovation, Global Youth Forum, Waterloo, ON, December, 2017.
  • Nation to Nation and why it matters. OKT Blog, November 30, 2017.
  • “First Nations Elections and Citizenship Law.” Indigenous Legal Issues, Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto, ON, November, 2017.
  • “Getting on with performance of Treaty commitments in Canada.” Canadian Council on International Law: UNDRIP Implementation in Canada, Ottawa, ON, November, 2017.
  • “Sacred Water, Treaties, Declarations and First Nation Responsibilities.” Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association, Toronto, ON, November, 2017.
  • “Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within Canadian Institutions.” Canadian Institute’s Advanced Administrative Law Conference, October 2017.
  • “Anishinaabe Inakonigaawin: the Rules that Govern us Rightly.” CBA NEERLS & Department of Justice Meeting, Ottawa, ON, October, 2017.
  • “United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Federal Principles and First Nation Expectations of Rights Implementation.” West Coast Environmental Law, Panel on Parliament Hill, October, 2017.
  • “Manito Aki Inakonigaawin, Governance and Community Decision-making.” Grand Council Treaty #3 Mining Forum, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, October, 2017.
  • “NAFTA, Inter-tribal Trade, the Jay Treaty and the International Civil, Political and Economic Rights.” First Nation Economic Advancement Conference, Toronto, ON, October, 2017.
  • The Ten Commandments of A Better Relationship. OKT Blog, September 21, 2017.
  • Monuments are one thing, Stare Decisis and Racist Colonial Law is Another. OKT Blog, August 31, 2017.
  • “Indigenous Perspectives on Consultation and Engagement.” Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Indigenous Consultation and Accommodation, Ottawa, ON, June, 2017.
  • “Engaging with Indigenous Laws, Traditions and Legal Institutions.” CBA Conference, Reflections on the RCAP: Canada’s Commitment to a Renewed Nation-to-Nation Relationship With Indigenous People, Winnipeg, MB, June, 2017.
  • “Legal Context and Historical Fact-finding: Nation to Nation relationships from an Indigenous perspective.” Canadian Bar Association / OBA Conference, Toronto, ON, May, 2017.
  • “Territorial Co-Governance, Indigenous Jurisdiction and Impact Assessment for Sustainability.” Presentation to the Assembly of First Nations ACCE Committee.
  • “Indigenous Jurisdiction and Environmental Governance.” Environmental Workshop, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, March 2017.
  • “An update on the federal environmental assessment legislation review: Perspective from a member of the Multi-Interest Advisory Committee and an overview of progressive reform ideas on the table for the EA Panel.” PDAC 2017, Toronto, ON.
  • “Aboriginal Jurisdiction and Environmental Stewardship.” November 2016. Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association, Ottawa, ON.
  • "One year since the political accord: where are we now?", OKT Blog, August 10, 2016
  • “Recent Federal Legislation Affecting Aboriginal Communities” OBA Program, September 2015, Toronto, Ontario.
  • Anishinaabe Aki: Treaty #3 after 140 years (unpublished) July, 2013.
  • “Developing and Implementing Consultation Protocols.” (unpublished). Pacific Business and Law Institute, Aboriginal Law 2011.
  • “Treaty Councils and Mutual Reconciliation under Section 35.” (Fall 2007) Indigenous Law Journal 141.
  • “Manidoo Mazina-igan: an Anishinaabe Perspective of Treaty #3” (unpublished), LL.M. Thesis, University of Toronto, 2007.